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Dear Family and Friends,
Being interviewed by a magazine recently I was asked what the main challenges were that I faced as a writer about Zimbabwean life and how I deal with those challenges. I replied that racism and intolerance were the two biggest issues I had to cope with. I explained that my birth certificate says I was born in Southern Rhodesia. My school and university certificates are from Rhodesia. My first ID was issued in Zimbabwe Rhodesia and my current ID and utility bills are from Zimbabwe. And it’s all the same place! I can't change what happened in the past, nor can I personally be blamed for it or deny it. BUT I can help to change the future and that's why I write about our country because I think Zimbabweans are ready to move on.
Writing this letter almost every week for the last thirteen years I’ve had my share of hate mail: from people who hate whites and those who hate blacks; from people who have categorized, judged and stereotyped. But I’ve also had mountains of mail from people all over the world who have an overwhelming love for this little tea pot shaped country of ours. Regardless of our age, sex religion or skin colour, we’ve all got things that make us love this country so much that we just can’t give up on it, regardless of the politics.
In between my letters about current affairs in Zimbabwe I would like to write about people’s memories and anecdotes about their lives here and maybe in the process become more tolerant of people’s differences and the things we cannot change and more determined to contribute to the future.
In the early 1960’s a family favourite was a picnic on the banks of one of the cold mountain rivers in the Nyanga mountains. Dad would carry a small gas bottle and a cold bag which contained drinks in glass bottles and a packet or two of sausages. Someone else carried a frying pan and a tin kettle and someone else carried the picnic basket. Arriving at the spot the bottles of drinks were wedged in the sand in the cold water of the river, the sausages were thrown into the frying pan to sizzle and pop and later the tin kettle was filled with water straight from the river and boiled for tea.
A friend wrote about his memories as a child in the 1980’s in Marondera. His Mum would send him to the shop with a list and the coins which she tied in a handkerchief and put in his pocket. He would walk along the railway line, balancing on the tracks and when he got to the shop hand the handkerchief to the storekeeper. Sometimes he’d be lucky and be given a sweet or a gob stopper and sometimes he’d be tempted to stop and play a quick game of slug (table soccer) on the shop veranda. On those occasions he invariably ended up staying far too long and having to face the wrath of his Mum when he got home hours later dusty, sticky and dishevelled.
Please send me your anecdote, whether you are black or white, male or female and whether you are from Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia or Zimbabwe because like it or not, we all come from the same little tea pot on the map of Africa. I’d love to hear from you and it would be great if you can put a rough year and place on your anecdote. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy
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